Flight Soars, But Levels Off

Critics think Denzel Washington is great in starring role

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 2, 2012 11:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – The new release Flight, starring Denzel Washington as drug- and alcohol-addicted pilot, gets a solid 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Most critics seem to think the acting and directing are superb, but at some point, the movie takes a bit of a nosedive:

  • Flight starts out with a thrilling plane crash, and after that "takes a surprising turn into a drama of addiction and moral exploration," writes Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, the latter parts feel "shopworn"and "instead of hurtling to a climax, the story moves in fits and starts, loses momentum."
  • Rick Groen at the Globe and Mail praises director Robert Zemeckis' ability to deliver a good crash scene, but thinks his sentimentality hurts the movie. "This movie is captivating until it gets uplifting—Flight soars when it crashes and crashes when it soars," he writes.
  • Good music, strong supporting actors, and great special effects are Flight's strong suits, but the "downward addiction and denial spiral" is all too familiar, writes Tom Long for the Detroit News. "It's that movie, done well, but done again."
  • Peter Travers, writing for Rolling Stone, disagrees. He says those complaining are "missing the point of an exceptional entertainment that Zemeckis shades into something quietly devastating—not an addiction drama, but the deeper spectacle of a man facing the truth about himself."

This film image released by Paramount Pictures shows Denzel Washington portraying Whip Whitaker in a scene from Flight.
This film image released by Paramount Pictures shows Denzel Washington portraying Whip Whitaker in a scene from "Flight."   (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Robert Zuckerman)
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The movie's trailer.   (YouTube)

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